Key Component To Talent Strategy: A Proper Goodbye

The HR space talks about Talent Acquisition a lot. How to attract candidates, how to source candidates, how make the candidate experience exceptional. Just venturing a guess, but perhaps 70%, maybe 80% of HR technology focuses on these very things.

As an HR practitioner, I believe there is a component corporate leaders, managers, HR pros, & recruiters neglect: A proper goodbye. This is for candidates of course (i.e., disqualifying them for a role) but more importantly, saying goodbye to employees when it is time for them to leave.

I have a personal story. In 2000 I started my first HR job and worked there for 10 years. For the record this company was extremely good to me. They gave me my first shot in the profession as an HR administrative assistant. When I left I was the HR Director. Some would say my time there was career defining. I was given opportunities to learn, to fail, and to achieve. I made lasting friends, had mentors at all levels, and frankly, a damn good time. However, when I quit, all went radio silent. I’ll never forget my last day. After a robust career full of energy and achievement, I left with a whimper. Really no goodbyes, no group hug. I just, kinda left. That has always stuck with me for better or for worse.

Although I think there was some frustration in my leaving, I know those weren’t the primary factors of the silence. Mainly, I think fellow employees had to focus energy elsewhere. Perhaps their priority was figuring how to disseminate my work, perhaps some moved on since I wasn’t part of the team, or some may have been just straight up too busy to remember I was leaving.

But the goodbye wasn’t satisfying. And impacted me. I’ve seen this same pattern in other companies, usually perpetrated by great people who just forget.

I don’t know how to solve this, but some food for thought:

  • Perhaps HR Tech startups need to think outside of “acquisition” technology and focus on disrupting other HR pain points.
  • Perhaps all folks who leave should be sent a thank you package to their home after they’ve left.
  • Perhaps leaders should be held to a standard of measurement regarding offboarding.
  • Perhaps cultural norms need to change. Terminated employees (unless fired for something egregious) shouldn’t be viewed as a pariah.

So back to why this is a huge component to talent acquisition: The halo/horn effect is alive and well. If the goodbye isn’t satisfying to folks who leave, they will tell others. That certainly doesn’t help public perception or recruiting strategy.

How are the goodbyes at your company?

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Dawn Burke
Dawn Burke is an HR Leader, speaker and writer, specializing in new HR practices, engagement and workplace culture.  Her HR career has spanned the last 20 years, most recently serving as VP of People for Birmingham, Alabama's award-winning technology company, Daxko. That’s right – the very DAXKO that our very own KD is an alum of, because there are only so many people in the big B’ham who are worthy of a VP of People title. A true Generalist, she’s done a little bit of everything, but recruiting and training is where she gets her mojo. She’s based in the good ol' blogging capitol of the south, Birmingham, Alabama, where you can frequently find her listening to the Beatles and REM, watching Breaking Bad reruns (and Snapped and Dateline), enjoying serious amounts of coffee (and cheese, but not together!), dreaming of where she will travel next, and wondering how in the world this theatre grad ever got into football or HR…Check out her blog at or talk to Dawn via emailLinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter


  1. Aaron Havens says:

    The hardest is when no one expects the departure and it was not of the employees choosing. The information available to the average employee is limited so they have no idea what to think or even do. Should I associate with that person? Did they do something wrong that I might be implicating myself in by talking to them? I am sure most of this is due to difficulty around privacy laws but difficult to deal with for most people.

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